Mini-Workshop: Learning Objects
The learning object model has a broad currency among educators as an effective approach to creating rich and meaningful learning experiences. This model allows for on-line educational materials to be developed that can be re-purposed for a varied target audience, and for a range of multimedia output mechanisms including the Web, touch screens, plasma screens, DVD etc.
Because the learning object model is based on a multimedia platform, the resources are stored digitally and consequently allow for the defining of multimedia repositories that can be made available for any user with an appropriate level of access. Accordingly, repositories of learning objects could be shared across institutions, schools, or countries with no restriction other than appropriate web access. There are established communities of learning object developers and content providers that are looking at the development of a standardised platform for the distribution of learning objects and the National Museum of Australia is committed to the nurturing of these communities to enable the sharing of Museum resources with other similar institutions at a global level.
The Learning Federation, a joint initative of Australian Federal and State education authorities was established to oversee the creation of a national pool of learning object resources for use in schools by students from Years K-10. This five year project is working to develop a database of learning objects accessible from a single national web-based repository.
The National Museum of Australia was contracted to develop learning object resources in the Studies of Australia field, a cross-disciplinary subject area encompassing history, geography, social and environmental studies. The museum was selected because of its collection and knowledge resources in Australian social and environmental history and because of its experience in producing innovative multimedia.
To support effective implementation of the Learning Object model, the Learning Federation developed a range of standards in respect of educational soundness, metadata and accessibility. These standards reflect current best practice in educational and multimedia design and ensure that the learning objects produced are both sound pedagogically while making effective use of the possibilities of multimedia and internet technologies.
The museum has adopted a collections-based approach in developing learning objects for the project, using individual items from its history collection as the anchor for online experiences designed to engage students in exploring key themes from the Australian Studies curriculum. Each learning object is designed to be a stand-alone experience, but one that can also be organised into a sequence of many objects reflecting different points of view and change over time.
The paper explores the potential of the learning object model for developing educational on-line multimedia for classroom use using the collection resouces of a museum. The educational and production standards underpinning the development will be discussed as well as the challenges faced in taking digital representations of collection objects into an interactive on-line space.